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Archive for the ‘Bitterness’ Category

What is definition of depression?

23 May

Depression has been described as a kind of emotional numbness.

A person may feel he or she has no laughter or joy inside because these positive emotions have been blocked by unhappy memories. Old emotional hurts inevitably lurk inside and when the new feelings try to bubble up they are filtered through these hurts. Even the most beautiful experience cannot survive if it is being filtered through a preexisting feeling of hopelessness, fear or anxiety.

How Do We Become Depressed?

Basically we are aroused by only two sensations, pain and pleasure. We all want to avoid pain and pursue pleasure. The emotional cycle which leads to depression begins in the present with our initial experience of pain or pleasure, and ends with complex feelings which are “remembered”exclusively in the past. This cycle of emotions has been found by psychiatrists to follow this pattern:

  1. Pain in the present is experienced as hurt.
  2. Pain in the past is remembered as anger.
  3. Pain in the future is perceived as anxiety or fear.
  4. Unexpressed anger, redirected against yourself and held within, is experienced as guilt.
  5. The depletion of energy that occurs when anger is redirected inward creates depression.

Hurt is stored because the body retains a primitive subconscious ability to remember every incident that it experiences. This is called conditioning and is part of the way we learn.

Although many people are treated with anti depressant drugs, these medications do not cure the underlying hurt or sadness that is the true cause of the depression. When the medication is taken away the depression usually reappears.

Even though it can take longer and requires greater insight and courage, a depressed person can either release the inner hurt or reprogram it. He/She can learn new, more useful and effective responses to painful experiences. When this is accomplished a permanent cure usually results.

In the Life Skills Seminar you learn to overcome depression by understanding and practising:

  1. The conscious ability to relax and release stress any time, anywhere.
  2. The ability to focus the mind.
  3. The ability to neutralise or reprogram subconscious “hurt memories”.
  4. The ability to develop mind/body exercises to overcome depression.
  5. The ability to develop new responses to current experiences.
 

Overcoming Anxiety & Fear

08 May

Learn about origins of Fear and Anxiety and how to over come this. We can all experience different fears and anxieties in many different ways, yet there is a common factor behind most of our fears or our anxiety – the way they are formed. Fear and Anxiety can be resolved.

Which is stronger, the power of the will or the power of the imagination? Most people think the will is stronger, but anyone who has had the experience of being overcome by fear would answer “imagination”.

Fear is the negative effect of imagination and can occur spontaneously, and against our will. We can all experience different fears and anxieties in many different ways, yet there is a common factor behind most of our fears or our anxiety - the way they are formed. Fear and Anxiety can be resolved.

The Process – How Does Fear Begin?

We are aroused by only two sensations, pain and pleasure. We all want to avoid pain and pursue pleasure. The emotional cycle which leads to fear begins in the present with our initial experience of pain or pleasure, and ends up with complex feelings which are “remembered” exclusively in the past. This cycle of emotions has been found by psychiatrists to follow the following pattern:

  1. Pain in the present is experienced as hurt.
  2. Pain in the past is remembered as anger.
  3. Pain in the future is perceived as anxiety or fear.
  4. Unexpressed anger, redirected against ourselves and held within is experienced as guilt.
  5. The depletion of energy that occurs when anger is redirected inward creates depression.

“Hurt” is stored because the body retains a primitive subconscious ability to remember every incident that it experiences. This is called conditioning and it is part of the way we learn. These “hurt memories” do not usually form part of our everyday conscious awareness, but in fact our current action is influenced by hundreds of thousands of them! This primitive subconscious ability will remind you of a particular “hurt memory” through your feelings. Some childhood memories may be very painful and difficult to recall and may therefore be repressed.

If we encounter an incident which hurts us (slipping on a step while high on a ladder), and if we are unable to adequately understand, resolve or communicate our feelings about this incident, then it is automatically stored in the subconscious mind. If we then encounter the same or a similar incident (leaning over the edge of a tall building) at a later date, this “hurt” is automatically “recalled” by our subconscious mind. We are reminded that this incident is responsible for a “past hurt” through a change in our feelings. We will begin to feel uncomfortable, nervous, anxious, dizzy, weak, anxious. We may experience headaches, nausea or even complete paralysis. In some cases these symptoms can be experienced by just thinking about the situation!

From this example it is apparent that three skills must be learnt to overcome fear and anxiety:

Firstly, a method of releasing or handling the subconscious “hurt memories” which have been stored.
Secondly, developing self-confidence to deal with the actual situation which triggers the fear.
Thirdly, developing new responses to express the emotions that are felt when the situation recurs.

Life Skills Seminar, overcoming fear is dealt with by teaching and practising:

  1. The conscious ability to relax and release stress any time, anywhere.
  2. The ability to focus the mind.
  3. The ability to neutralise and reprogram subconscious “fear memories”.
  4. The ability to develop mind/body exercises to overcome fear.
  5. The ability to develop greater self confidence to experience the situation which is creating fear.
  6. The ability to program new responses to express emotions in that situation.
 

Research is Confirming the Value of Forgiveness

06 May

I get a shiver of excitement each time I see something that scientifically validates ideas that I have believed and been putting forward for quite a while now. Everyone knows by now that I am a “prove-it-to-me” type of person – thus my excitement at more proof! Remember, 25 years ago when my son Andrew used techniques to save his leg from amputation, using these same techniques today has been scientifically validated and is now called psycho-neuro-immunology. I have believed for some time that forgiveness is a prime component of happiness and can in fact lead to happiness. Now there is some compelling research, a book Dare to Forgive by Dr Edward M. Hallowell, a Harvard psychiatrist and two articles on the subject that I have seen recently, which show that the lack of forgiveness can have serious health consequences. In other words, to put it positively – Forgiveness leads to a plethora of both mental and physiological advantages. Surely happiness is the result!

Dare to Forgive

In his book Dr Hallowell, who has thoroughly researched the subject, states that learning to forgive is a process …… not a moment. Furthermore learning to forgive is as important as learning to say please and thank you. Imagine that! ……. you do forgiveness every day just as you say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’!

Dr Hallowell says research has shown that anger, worry, stress and tension lead to high blood pressure, a lowered immune system, colds, headaches, effects your sex life and all of this puts pressure on your heart. Forgiveness has a direct bearing on all of these  negatives – improving all of them. He likens learning to forgive as a way of healing these negative emotions, and being of the same importance as for example somebody exercising and modifying their diet to control blood pressure.

Anger affects lung function

Dr Rosalind Wright, an assistant professor of medicine at the Harvard Medical School, did a study, the results of which were published on 31st of August 2006 (online edition of Thorax). In an article about Dr Wright’s work which Amanda Gardner wrote for Health Day Reporter, she said 
Hostility and anger have been strongly linked with many other health problems in older adults, including heart disease and asthma. These emotions also appear to have an impact on chronic airway obstruction, suggesting that they could also effect the lungs.
To see if there was a link between anger and hostility and a way the lungs work, Wright and her colleagues examined 670 men aged 45 to 86.
Levels of hostility, measured at the beginning of the study in 1986, averaged 18.5 points on a standard scale, with values ranging from 7 to 37 points. Lung function appeared to decline as anger numbers rose, and vice-versa.
Over the next eight years, the researchers re-calculated the men’s lung function three different times. Men who scored poorly in lung function at the beginning of the study were worse at each subsequent measurement, they said.

The above appears to be proof that carrying hostility and anger affects our own lungs. So why do it? There is a ready-made remedy, which is forgiveness and self forgiveness. I have said so many times that forgiveness is personal, no one else needs to know, and thus forgiveness is for the forgiver and not the forgiven.

Let it go.

Let it go it was an article by Kelly Baker published in the Sunday Telegraph on 15th of July 2007. It’s worth a read and you can Google it. Besides quoting Hallowell and a Sydney psychotherapist, Susannah Paterson, who extols the virtues of letting go and forgiveness, Kelly Baker writes -

Susannah Paterson says: “In our Western, capitalist society there’s so much pressure to just move on and forget” she explains. “Whether our bad experience is major or just something small, many of us are in an enormous hurry to let go. We want to get better and get back to normal, but grief is a process and it takes time to move through it.
? Many people suffer great trauma and grief and in the end all of us will experience some grief. Why? Because, unfortunately suffering is part of life. That’s something we can all think about from time to time. If we did we might find we were better able to cope when tragedy stuck.

I often say with trauma or loss or dealing with any negative experience, from ill-health to divorce, it is the negative emotions and the negative self talk that are harmful – and there is a lot of solid research to show this. When negative self talk gets a hold and becomes a habit this leads to depression. 60,000 times a day we talk to ourselves and when negative self talk becomes a habit we become unaware of it. Awareness of our thoughts is a great key – then we can do something about it.

Happiness

So, harbouring bitterness, anger, resentment, guilt, judgments and more doesn’t help anyone. If another person is involved or has contributed to any of the above then these emotions harboured within yourself don’t have any effect on the other person. However they do have a detrimental physiological effect on you. Your health suffers and by being bitter and angry you affect others around you.

I have friends who after a trauma, particularly the death of a loved one, have ended their long marriage purely because one partner wanted to move on and the other was stuck – leading to more unhappiness as divorce is always a challenge.

Resentment and hatred experienced on a daily basis is self poisoning. The caustic anger generated will damage one’s health and relationships. Forgiveness is something we do for ourselves – it is a most practical tool.

Forgiveness of others and of yourself truly can lead to happiness. Without forgiveness, sometimes true happiness can be quite elusive! In closing let me say one thing about “forgive and forget”. You cannot forget because the way memory works means that with any emotional event it is indelibly imprinted in your memory. You can dull the pain with forgiveness and smile at the memory – particularly recalling the good things.

So, know that there are good scientific and spiritual reasons to forgive. Forgiveness never condones an event, however it truly leads to happiness

All the best,

Sandy signature
Sandy MacGregor

 

Knowledge Centre – Life Changing

02 May

Why Is The Subconscious Mind Important?

The subconscious mind contains all our memory, our habits and beliefs, personality and self image. Perhaps you want to change a habit, such as smoking, or always reacting angrily when someone ‘pushes your buttons”. Maybe you wish to have better recall in exams. Or you might be challenged by low self esteem. Whatever you want to change, it is essential to change it in the subconscious mind.

But were you taught how to do that when you were at school? Were you born with a manual on how to operate your subconscious? Do you know the laws and the language of the subconscious mind? In my experience, most people answer ‘No” to those questions!

What Is The Subconscious Mind?

When you buy a computer, you acquire the hardware which is the computer screen, keyboard, disk drive and all the other bits and pieces inside. However, when you plug the computer in, it will not work without an “operating system”. The operating system is like a basic, predefined set of instructions which coordinates the use of the hardware. Once the operating system is installed, the computer comes to life and is able to perform fundamental tasks such as saving information, but more importantly, it is now able to accept further, more sophisticated programming. For instance, if you want your computer to type letters. A word processing (typing) program is required.

When you want to type a letter, you request the operating system to start this program. What then appears on the screen is a blank page, and as you type, the characters appear on the page. You may not be aware of all the billions of electronic signals which have been “programmed” by both the operating system and the word processing program to flow through the computer in a particular way so that you can type a letter. What you are consciously aware of is the image on the screen.

 

Enlightenment Regarding Depression

15 Nov

Enlightenment Regarding DepressionThis is my third Mind Matters News (MMN) about this vexing issue of Depression and the Mental Health Issue. I personally have learnt so much and following the interest that has been displayed by the recipients of the MMN I thought it best to summarize what I have learned.

The information available is truly enlightening. So the format of this MMN is to quote some information (that I have selected from links) to just whet your appetite so that you will be able to receive much more clarity at the link itself.

Depression Is Not An Illness

The most profound article I have read is written by Philip Hickey, Ph.D. who is (in his own words)  “I am a licensed psychologist, presently retired.  I have worked in clinical and managerial positions in the mental health, corrections, and addictions fields in the United States and England”.

Dr Hickey says many things in this article which back up the tools and techniques that are taught with the CALM System and I believe really extollhope! Here are some extracts:

“….. depression is an adaptive mechanism which has served the species well for millions of years.  When things are going well in our lives, we feel good.  This good feeling is nature’s way of telling us to keep doing what we’re doing.  When our lives are not going well, we feel down or depressed.  This is nature’s way of telling us to make some changes.”

“In order to feel good, the following seven factors must be present in our lives:

  • - good nutrition
  • - fresh air
  • - sunshine
  • - physical activity
  • - purposeful activity
  • - good relationships
  • - adequate and regular sleep”

“…. it is worth noting that all human lives are, sooner or later, touched by major tragic losses.  What matters is:  how equipped are we, in habits and lifestyle, to handle these losses.  When a person goes to a mental health center and asks for help with depression, the first priority should be a detailed assessment of the person’s lifestyle, habits, relationships, history, etc., to determine the source of the depressive feelings”

Read More

Suicide and “Mental Illness”

“The draft Roadmap gives scant regard to suicide. Suicide and ‘mental illness’ –are peas in the same pod but they cannot be understood when defined by the flawed medical model.

“Australia has been involved in the Afghan war for 10 years and we have recently learnt of the 33rd soldier’s death.  This has caused a great outpouring of Government and media attention and rightly so.  However, during the same 10 year period it is estimated that somewhere between 22,000 and 25,000 Australian men (just men) have killed themselves, that is, committed suicide.  Just the number of men killing themselves is currently double the combined national road toll.  The greatest single cause of death for Australians under the age of 55 years is suicide. Last year it was thought to be 6 each day, now it is thought to be closer to 7.

“We have become so frightened of this reality; we run away, divert ourselves, anesthetise ourselves and avoid thinking, talking or taking responsibility for this disastrous situation.  Governments and the medical profession are paralysed.

Source: ”Excerpt from Rob Walter’s reply to the government’s draft Ten Year Roadmap for National Mental Health ReformPoint 26. Do you have any other comments on the draft Roadmap you would like to make?”

Antidepressants Cause Suicide and Violence in Soldiers

“Death by suicide is at record levels in the armed services. Simultaneously the use of antidepressant drugs is also at record levels, including brand names like Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Celexa and Lexapro.

“According to the army, in 2007 17% of combat troops in Afghanistan were taking prescription antidepressants or sleeping pills. Inside sources have given me an even bleaker picture: During Vietnam, a mere 1% of our troops were taking prescribed psychiatric drugs. By contrast, in the past year one-third of marines in combat zones were taking psychiatric drugs.

“Are the pills helping? The army confirms that since 2002 the number of suicide attempts has increased six-fold. And more than 128 soldiers killed themselves last year.”

Read More

The National Institute Of Mental Health : Where to From Here?

The article highlights “the unprecedented reduction in the pharmaceutical industry’s research and development programs for psychiatric medications.”

“For NIMH, the problem is clear. Research over the past decade has shown that our current medications are not good enough. Industry has had blockbusters but very few breakthroughs in the past forty years. There was always hope that the billions of dollars invested in this area by the pharmaceutical industry would result in more effective treatments for our most disabling disorders. Now, however, we face the possibility that there will be no “next generation” of mental disorder treatments emerging from industry.”

Read More

A Comment from Kate – a MMN subscriber

“I believe that mental health is in an even worse state than your newsletter implies.  The link below is to an article I read recently and was shocked – it is not an Australian article but it gives damning evidence as to the efficacy (or lack thereof) and potential harm that can be done by anti-depressants.  It is a detailed book review of three different books which may be of use.”

An Epidemic Of Mental Illness: Why?

The 3 books are listed below. We have talked about 2 of them in recent MMN.

The Emperor’s New Drugs: Exploding the Antidepressant Myth
by Irving Kirsch 

Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America
by Robert Whitaker 
                                                  

Unhinged: The Trouble With Psychiatry—A Doctor’s Revelations About a Profession in Crisis
by Daniel Carlat 

Book Blaming the brain, truth about drugs and mental health!

“Now, in Blaming the Brain he exposes the many weaknesses inherent in the scientific arguments supporting the widely accepted theory that biochemical imbalances are the main cause of mental illness. Valenstein reveals how, beginning in the 1950s, the accidental discovery of a few mood-altering drugs stimulated an enormous interest in psychopharmacology, resulting in staggering growth and profits for the pharmaceutical industry.”

Read More

Enlightenment Regarding DepressionClosing Comment

This issue is not going to go away, and indeed looks as though it is heading in the wrong direction. Although most of the articles and quotes are sourced from USA we know that the pharmacological approach is alive and well in Australia. I personally believe there are alternatives and sometimes – for possibly limited times – the pharmacological approach is required and I would always say ‘together with “other” approaches’.  I have done three MMN on the topic of Depression and will now “move on.”

So John, are there recommendations that I would make? Certainly! The main one is that it is always a healthy approach to take action oneself – not to “just have things done to or for you”! Take responsibility for yourself and be involved in your own therapy program. Specifically I would say use the CALM techniques for developing a habit of positive self talk, do goals, have purpose, relax quickly and meditate. I can be more specific if you wish to drop me an email.

All the best

Sandy MacGregor

“Your gift from God is your potential – Your gift to God is to use it.”

 

Never Forgive – until you’re ready

16 Oct

Never Forgive - until you're ready

I’ve wanted to write this for quite some time because many people have said to me that they could never forgive. My response has always been that that’s OK. I might add that when people have heard that I have forgiven, I have, amongst many positive reactions, also received a few negatives … ones like “I am betraying my daughters”, and “Why would I make the perpetrator feel OK?”, and “It’s sending a message of condoning of the murders” and “Only God can forgive” … and more. All these reactions or statements are understandable. They are the same kind of things that I said to myself when I was first confronted with the thought of forgiveness. The other thing that I believe these statements show is a different understanding of the topic, or the process of forgiveness, to my own. And as you may know, the understandings I have, were gained through a lengthy process of dealing with the painful experiences of the murder of my three beautiful teenage daughters.

Don’t Even Think Of Forgiving

When the wounds (or the deaths) are really raw (close to the event) then I believe that nobody should even think of forgiveness.  If you are a supporter of anyone dealing with tragedy, then at this stage, don’t even mention forgiveness.  The process of hatred and anger and thoughts of revenge are natural and I believe healthy in the early stages of grieving.

When the victim of a tragedy (the survivor) is feeling extreme bitterness, hatred, unbearable ongoing hurt, anger, revenge, then do not even think about forgiveness.  Every time you do (think about forgiveness) you will only feel more upset and hurt yourself.  There has been enough hurt – you don’t need any more. I say to express your rage!  Vent your spleen, as much as you can, on the perpetrator, society, circumstances … whatever you need to do to release your anger and hurt.  In your mind this will help, because by doing this, you will be preserving the love for your departed one(s), you will not condone the actions of violence, you will not help the perpetrator, right now this is a way of reassuring yourself that you are being loyal to your loved ones.

Forgiveness is a choice.  Only when you can bear to find out its meaning will you be able to investigate the purpose of forgiveness.

Handling The Trauma And Some Questions

Before I start on my explanation I want to pose a situation that too many people confront. Six months on, or even twelve months (and more) after a tragedy in which you have lost a loved one, every time you think of the event, or the lost loved one, or the perpetrator, then you are hurt. This hurt upsets you and you may become angry or you may show other emotions. This has perhaps become a habit. I know of a number of situations that by doing this it has affected relationships – one partner wants to move on and the other stays stuck in grief – a form of loyalty to the lost loved one.

Never Forgive - until you're readyTo continue, another way the loss may be handled is not to think about the event. Every time you think about it, you are hurt and emotional. And as you don’t want to do this to yourself, so you attempt to banish the thoughts from your mind. I know of a situation whereby the parents of a lost loved one did not allow even the mentioning of that child’s name in the house. So for a while you feel you can cope with life. Can you ever forget? No! Never! Your subconscious mind, your deep inner mind has always got the memory (and the habits). This is the same mind that is your dream mind, but you don’t have control over it. So what happens? Hot sweats, nightmares, unexplained anger, irrational actions! Familiar? This is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) caused by not fully processing the tragedy. Today we have counsellors who help to do this. It is always extremely important to talk and talk and talk … do not bury your thoughts.

Let me ask a question. How does your lost loved one want to be remembered? I’ll bet that they wouldn’t want you to be hurt or emotional every time you think of them! I think they would say something like “Hey Mum, remember the time when …. and we laughed and laughed ….”? Only happy memories would be their answer. Ask them … see if you get an answer inside of you! You are the master of what you do to yourself.

Here are another series of questions to ask yourself when you are ready. How are you handling your loved one’s murder or death? Does it hurt? Is it painful? Do you get angry? And now the big questions … Is this making you feel better, or worse? Is this helping or hindering you to handle life? And lastly, the questions … Who has power over this? Is there an alternative

What is the Purpose of Forgiveness?

Never Forgive - until you're readyForgiveness is for yourself only. It is to help you to move on. It does not condone any crime. It does not give the perpetrator a signal to go out and do it again. It is, I believe, a spiritual act and God is involved. If we agree with God being omnipotent and omnipresent then we are not separated from God. God is within each one of us. We therefore, in the process of forgiveness of the perpetrator, we can do what is within our power. What does the perpetrator do with your forgiveness? That’s up to them. The perpetrator may make peace with God, may be remorseful, may understand how many lives they have severely affected, and may ask for forgiveness from God. Whatever they do is not your responsibility. You are primarily responsible for yourself only.

One way of forgiving can be done in meditation. Why do I recommend this way? Because it is a test of whether you really mean it or not. Whether you have released the bitterness, anger, hatred, resentment, etc… It may be easy for some to say out loud “I forgive you” and not mean it at all. When you do this in meditation and you don’t really mean it, then you will choke on the words. You won’t be able to say it in meditation if you don’t mean it. What do you do then? Work more on releasing anger, acceptance, letting go, and unconditional love.

So, please only forgive when you are ready and always, yes always, remember the good events. Flood any negative memories with those good events by visualising them taking place again inside your mind. I encourage you to practise forgiveness in every day life and observe how you feel – only when you are ready.

Sandy MacGregor

 

Ideas Regarding Self-Improvement

09 Aug

Ideas Regarding Self-ImprovementOne of the constants in life is change and our life experiences constantly change all of us. All of us have different life experiences with various events that happen which automatically effect and stretch us in some way and teach us assorted life lessons. We learn – mostly from negative experiences – these are our life experiences! We gradually learn to manage life’s hurdles and challenges which will be ever present. Indeed we are always learning!

Rivalry and competition are stronger in our society than ever before. New technology is with us at every turn which makes it imperative to constantly update our knowledge and skills to retain an edge for getting the work we want. Paying attention to our own self-improvement is crucial. In this way you will retain your advantage and flexibility in most circumstances.

Balance and Awareness

Having balance in your life helps to create the life you want. Recognise what you enjoy doing and what you’re good at and concentrate on refining and improving those talents.

You need to be aware of aiming for self-improvement and take steps to make it happen. You will need to find the right tools and aids to advance you along the path of self-improvement and this may take a bit of financial outlay for books, seminars or other aids.

To achieve self-improvement it is important for each of us to be responsible for our own thoughts, actions and behaviour. Furthermore we may need to relinquish or modify certain attitudes such as excessive anger, bullying, judgements and accusations.

Do You Have the Skills to Change?

Sometimes we want to and sometimes we need to change. Everyone of course is different and what approach we take to change or to handle change will vary. This deliberate change could be called self-improvement and generally there is room for self-improvement in every person’s life. A good question is – how to start?

How do people find out how and where to start? As we work towards our differing aspirations we can often realise that we don’t have the skills needed to change our life. Many people consider doing something to improve their life and because they don’t know how or where to start it becomes too easy to shelve the idea.

Look Inside and be Open to Creating Self-Improvement?

Focusing on the inner self is a good way to go. I’ll be happy when thoughts never really work – like ……….. I’ll be happy when – I get a better job, have a committed relationship – or when – something else happens in my life. Perhaps you believe that you really will be happy when – that certain something materialises. It may be your belief that being wealthy would buy you happiness – it doesn’t work. Happiness is a decision! You choose to be happy.

Of great importance is our own self-esteem, self-acknowledgement and self-love..

Do goals properly by using the subconscious mind. Setting Goals in Personal, Positive and Present Tense language and then checking all goals with SMART – that is, specific, measurable, achievable, reality and time-based when necessary is the only sensible way to achieve success.

Cultivating the self-discipline and responsibility to head in the right direction for achievement of this is important. Create good habits of positive self-talk, doing goals five times a day and making sure you actively meditate are all essentials of Self-Improvement. Know yourself, your life purpose, your aptitudes together with your special talents.

Some Ideas on How to Achieve Self-Improvement

Ideas Regarding Self-Improvement1. Find out about techniques and ways to handle difficulties and the tough times.

2. Learn to give up hatred and blame and free yourself from resentment and negative thinking.

3. Choose to be responsible for all aspects of your life.

4. Set specific, achievable goals.

5. Learn how to increase your self esteem and confidence.}

6. Learn how to be selective and say “No” when necessary to help reduce stress and look after yourself. For stress reduction ask for the help of others and practise daily meditation and healthy habits of eating and exercise.

7. Surrender graciously and adapt to those things you cannot change.

8. Developing emotional intelligence will help you to be in control of your emotions. By developing emotional intelligence it will increase your ability to understand not only yourself but other people and their feelings.

So, working towards self-acceptance and self love is a good place to start. Have faith in yourself. Focusing on self-improvement will lead you towards an improved and more contented life. Skills will be developed to assist you towards an improved lifestyle and performance. Your effect on others will be positive and you will contribute to making the world a better place.

All the best

Sandy

“Your gift from God is your potential – Your gift to God is to use it.”

 

Research is Confirming the Value of Forgiveness

26 Jul

Research is Confirming the Value of ForgivenessI get a shiver of excitement each time I see something that scientifically validates ideas that I have believed and been putting forward for quite a while now. Everyone knows by now that I am a “prove-it-to-me” type of person – thus my excitement at more proof! Remember, 25 years ago when my son Andrew used techniques to save his leg from amputation, using these same techniques today has been scientifically validated and is now called psycho-neuro-immunology. I have believed for some time that forgiveness is a prime component of happiness and can in fact lead to happiness. Now there is some compelling research, a book Dare to Forgive by Dr Edward M. Hallowell, a Harvard psychiatrist and two articles on the subject that I have seen recently, which show that the lack of forgiveness can have serious health consequences. In other words, to put it positively – Forgiveness leads to a plethora of both mental and physiological advantages. Surely happiness is the result!

Dare to Forgive

In his book Dr Hallowell, who has thoroughly researched the subject, states that learning to forgive is a process …… not a moment. Furthermore learning to forgive is as important as learning to say please and thank you. Imagine that! ……. you do forgiveness every day just as you say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’!

Dr Hallowell says research has shown that anger, worry, stress and tension lead to high blood pressure, a lowered immune system, colds, headaches, effects your sex life and all of this puts pressure on your heart. Forgiveness has a direct bearing on all of these negatives – improving all of them. He likens learning to forgive as a way of healing these negative emotions, and being of the same importance as for example somebody exercising and modifying their diet to control blood pressure.

Anger affects lung function

Dr Rosalind Wright, an assistant professor of medicine at the Harvard Medical School, did a study, the results of which were published on 31st of August 2006 (online edition of Thorax). In an article about Dr Wright’s work which Amanda Gardner wrote for Health Day Reporter, she said Hostility and anger have been strongly linked with many other health problems in older adults, including heart disease and asthma. These emotions also appear to have an impact on chronic airway obstruction, suggesting that they could also effect the lungs.

To see if there was a link between anger and hostility and a way the lungs work, Wright and her colleagues examined 670 men aged 45 to 86.

Levels of hostility, measured at the beginning of the study in 1986, averaged 18.5 points on a standard scale, with values ranging from 7 to 37 points. Lung function appeared to decline as anger numbers rose, and vice-versa.
Over the next eight years, the researchers re-calculated the men’s lung function three different times. Men who scored poorly in lung function at the beginning of the study were worse at each subsequent measurement, they said.

The above appears to be proof that carrying hostility and anger affects our own lungs. So why do it? There is a ready-made remedy, which is forgiveness and self forgiveness. I have said so many times that forgiveness is personal, no one else needs to know, and thus forgiveness is for the forgiver and not the forgiven.

Let it go.

Let it go it was an article by Kelly Baker published in the Sunday Telegraph on 15th of July 2007. It’s worth a read and you can Google it. Besides quoting Hallowell and a Sydney psychotherapist, Susannah Paterson, who extols the virtues of letting go and forgiveness, Kelly Baker writes -

Susannah Paterson says: “In our Western, capitalist society there’s so much pressure to just move on and forget” she explains. “Whether our bad experience is major or just something small, many of us are in an enormous hurry to let go. We want to get better and get back to normal, but grief is a process and it takes time to move through it.
? Many people suffer great trauma and grief and in the end all of us will experience some grief. Why? Because, unfortunately suffering is part of life. That’s something we can all think about from time to time. If we did we might find we were better able to cope when tragedy stuck.

I often say with trauma or loss or dealing with any negative experience, from ill-health to divorce, it is the negative emotions and the negative self talk that are harmful – and there is a lot of solid research to show this. When negative self talk gets a hold and becomes a habit this leads to depression. 60,000 times a day we talk to ourselves and when negative self talk becomes a habit we become unaware of it. Awareness of our thoughts is a great key – then we can do something about it.

Happiness

Research is Confirming the Value of ForgivenessSo, harbouring bitterness, anger, resentment, guilt, judgments and more doesn’t help anyone. If another person is involved or has contributed to any of the above then these emotions harboured within yourself don’t have any effect on the other person. However they do have a detrimental physiological effect on you. Your health suffers and by being bitter and angry you affect others around you.

I have friends who after a trauma, particularly the death of a loved one, have ended their long marriage purely because one partner wanted to move on and the other was stuck – leading to more unhappiness as divorce is always a challenge.

Resentment and hatred experienced on a daily basis is self poisoning. The caustic anger generated will damage one’s health and relationships. Forgiveness is something we do for ourselves – it is a most practical tool.

Forgiveness of others and of yourself truly can lead to happiness. Without forgiveness, sometimes true happiness can be quite elusive! In closing let me say one thing about “forgive and forget”. You cannot forget because the way memory works means that with any emotional event it is indelibly imprinted in your memory. You can dull the pain with forgiveness and smile at the memory – particularly recalling the good things.

So, know that there are good scientific and spiritual reasons to forgive. Forgiveness never condones an event, however it truly leads to happiness.

All the best,

Sandy MacGregor

 

Handling Life – Success and the Unexpected

12 Jul

Handling Life - Success and the UnexpectedHave you tools to handle the unexpected? Today we are bombarded with a lot of advertising and so many options of how to spend our time and money. How can we possibly choose something that may truly be life changing or of enormous benefit to us personally? Are we indeed looking for something or does an offer just happen to pass in front of our line of vision – ‘so to speak’.

Just how should we invest our money and spend our time?

You’ve seen me writing about the 5-Day live-in Creating Happiness Intentionally – CHI – Seminar many times before and expounding its virtues. You have probably seen letters written to us by people who have benefitted by attending.

But how can you tell if this is really something for you? My belief is to read as much as you can about the conduct of any seminar and then read or speak to participants or read what they have to say. (Yes we can put you in touch with those who have experienced the seminars.)

Divorce – Confused and Despairing!

From somebody who was coping with a painful separation and divorce and wrote to me just before attending her 2nd CHI Seminar:

I believe the best thing I ever did for myself was to invest in your CHI retreat back in 2009 and I’m looking forward to attending again now in 2011. I do not believe I would have got through this last 2 years the way I have without the knowledge that I gained from you. I am very sorry that my marriage will not be continuing but I know one day I will be ok and I won’t die, only grow from this.

She was confused and rather despairing after the collapse of her marriage and after attending her 2nd CHI she wrote:

This is my 2nd CHI course. Initially I was worried that it would be boring or repetitive but I ignored these negative feelings and paid attention. I realised that I heard with different ears this time than the first. I had grown from my first experience and had already started implementing much of the CHI strategies and thought patterns.

The 1st CHI assisted me to cope with the ever changing world and my own personal circumstances. This 2nd CHI has helped me reassess my life with a whole new expanded set of goals that have built on top of existing goals or achievements. SA, WA.

Dealing with deep grief and bereavement

How do you deal with the death of a life’s partner? It is a challenge to even imagine that you can make a new life for yourself let alone find new interests! A participant attended CHI in just these circumstances. She set and then went on to achieve some amazing goals, such as Meditating daily, joined a local library and took to reading with a passion, joined a book club where she has met new people, joined a support group for those who are bereaved, started attending Art Classes, attended a talk by Dr Norman Doidge, enrolled in University to complete a PhD, took up creative writing, had some sessions with a Counsellor, sorted out her affairs, travelled overseas and is “threatening” to join a gym.

After attending CHI she wrote :

Thank you. I came to Bali to attend the CHI Seminar just 8 short weeks after the death of my beloved husband. I felt my life was completely lost. I had no goals, no purpose and was full of sadness.

I am so grateful I came here to this course on “Creating Happiness Intentionally” in the gorgeous Gaia Oasis, far into the hills in Northern Bali.

Away from the world’s pressures, with a group of like-minded people, Sandy, you have helped me re-gain my purpose for life.

In 4 days I have worked out my Life’s Purpose with goals to support that purpose. I am brimming, positively brimming, with excitement to get started on the rest of my life. The CHI course is well honed – it certainly does show you how to create happiness. Thank you again Sandy. KA, WA.

Handling Life - Success and the UnexpectedWe all have Challenges!

If you have something particularly challenging to handle in your life – and at some stage during our life, make no mistake – we all will face a difficult challenge. That’s part of life! What we learn from adversity is what is important. Lessons for the Soul! The two testimonials above are rather compelling. To gild the lily I have included more below which I find encouraging and inspirational. Read them all to get a different perspective.

Plan now and make an intention by reserving your place for $100. Remember it is a 5 day live in seminar with very limited numbers and will be conducted in Sydney from 11-15 January 2012 and in northern Bali from 23-30 June 2012.

So SSSS, give some thought to this email. You may like to do the written exercises at www.lifepurpose.com.au and please feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss any aspects of this seminar or to speak personally to a former attendee.

All the best,

Sandy

 

Addressing Grief and Loss

27 Jun

Addressing Grief and Loss

There is no doubt that life tests us all and many of us face more challenges than others – there often seems to be neither rhyme nor reason that we can fathom to explain this. Grief is certainly something that all of us are going to have to face in one form or another in our lifetime and many as well face trauma in their lives. It can come about through many situations. Some examples could be the loss of a loved one, even the loss of a pet, loss of a job, moving to another town or city, business failure, a friend moving on to another town or city, a broken relationship, a child changing schools, your own children growing up … the list could go on. Many of us don’t know how to handle grief nor do we know what to tell others – this E-report, although long, is an attempt to help.

Introduction
Over the years Elisabeth Kubler-Ross has been known, principally by the public, as the real authority on dealing with grief. Five Stages of Grief were defined by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in her book “On Death and Dying”, Macmillan Publishing Company, 1969. She presents 5 stages terminally ill people may go through upon learning of their terminal illness – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Grief professionals acknowledge that these 5 Stages are the stages of Coping With Trauma – death need not be involved.

I am no professional expert counsellor in grief and can really only express from my experience and research. Experts in this area (peruse http://www.counselingforloss.com/article8.htm) talk about “Grief Work” beginning when the “honeymoon period” is over, when friends have stopped calling, everyone thinks you should be over it, the court case is resolved, “closure” has been effected, and everything is supposed to be back to normal. It’s at this point that real grieving begins – that is after the 5 Stages of “Grief”. Grief professionals often use the concept of “Grief Work” to help the bereaved through grief resolution – see http://www.counselingforloss.com for a site full of resources. I will address grief as the total journey – starting from the day of the trauma.

Emotional Results of Grief
When facing any adversity, I believe that it is extremely important to discuss it and work with what is at hand. Not talking about it is the worst thing one can do, because this can lead to the subconscious mind handling it with nightmares, hot sweats, unexplained anger, and irrational action. PTSD can be the resulting disorder. There is so much emotion around any traumatic event that the event becomes firmly implanted in our memory. If bringing the negative event to mind causes pain in the way of anger, hostility, blame, resentment, guilt, revenge, hurt etc, then one is hurting oneself and this can be happening to us for many years after the event unless we handle the grief or trauma. Whenever I now think of my daughters I sometimes momentarily think of their horrific death but I immediately replace the negative thought with fond, loving memories.

Handling grief is a process
Handling grief is a process and it takes time, sometimes a lot of time, before we will be able to come to the stage of thinking clearly about anything else (shock can often make us feel like a zombie – unable to think clearly and unable to make rational decisions). I don’t believe there is any order to coping with grief. All of us are different and we’ll do things differently! We go through grief in our own unique way…. however it is important and extremely helpful to reach out to others for assistance (and indeed for others to reach out to the one who is suffering to help them through this time). We need to talk about every single aspect of the event.

Forgetting about events is almost impossible and in many cases not even desirable. The feeling of pain will diminish with time – if it doesn’t, and in fact it remains intense, then professional help may be required. Please don’t make comparisons of any loss or trauma. Pain is a relative experience and there is no consolation in hearing that there is always someone worse off than you when we are experiencing our feelings.

Going Through Some Grief Before The Death Of A Loved One
Addressing Grief and LossSometimes in life we are faced with the sadness of a loved one who is slowly slipping away from this physical world. This could be at home or say in a nursing home or indeed at a palliative care centre. The process is challenging and can generate a prolonged grieving period where one may experience agonising feelings of helplessness and the pain of watching the degeneration of our loved one as they progress towards the inevitable. During a time like this we ourselves can already be on a path of grief. We don’t know exactly when our Loved One will pass away but we are watching them do so before our eyes. Perhaps we may have an image of them in our mind of what their essence was – when they were still in good health. Remember, how our Loved One looks now is not “who they are”. On the one hand, as we recall their essence, we can have warm memories and on the other hand, when we observe the change, overwhelming feelings of sadness and hopelessness can overwhelm us. Sometimes in a situation like this it can actually be a relief when they pass from the suffering of this world into the peaceful, “untouchable” state of death. Nothing more can now harm or damage them. They are in a “better” place. My wife says that when she thinks of her mother (who passed away after a long period of suffering) it is amazing how mostly only the wonderful, warm, loving thoughts and images come through. Often in this situation we have experienced so much grief prior to our Loved One’s final passing that the period of intense grieving after their actual passing may be brief. When we have had an extended period of grieving like this, it can be helpful to have been able to say Goodbye, remember the good times and tell our Loved One how much we love them – even if we think they can not hear us, usually it is the case that hearing is one of the last senses to leave us. An elderly friend of mine has just lost his wife after a prolonged period of suffering and I suggested to him that at her bedside he speak to her comfortingly and tell her of his love for her. Afterwards, with tears in his eyes he told me what a difference it had made to both of them as his wife, very feebly, had been able to acknowledge that she had heard him.

Does Anyone Want To Be Another Victim?
One of the ways that helped me to move through grief after my daughters died, was talking about it. I was really lucky in that I had many friends around me who were able to keep me talking about every aspect of the girls’ lives, my life, the murderer, emotions such as guilt, blame, judgements, anger, revenge, “Why me?” … everything! The other major way I handled my grief was with meditation. When I was in the middle of meditation, a thought came to me which was “If you persist in being hateful, angry and revengeful … then you’re going to end up like that!” In other words, I would become another victim … and it would mean that I would be doing this to myself (because we move towards our thoughts – negative thoughts attract negative thoughts which in turn leads to negative action and negative reaction … and the corollary of course, fortunately, is also true). So I sought assistance and worked in meditation with changing hatred, anger and revenge to acceptance, co-operation, unconditional love and forgiveness.

Acceptance and Co-operation
Acceptance and co-operation probably go together. A short explanation of what I mean is that whatever has happened, already is. It has already happened. It doesn’t matter how bad this adversity is, because according to the teachings I have learned about (and it is commonsense to me) whatever has happened cannot be changed, so co-operate with it, accept it, and in other words, don’t deny it. Look for the lesson in the adversity. Asking a question of yourself such as “What is there in this event that I can apply to my life?” or “What is there in this event that I can learn and perhaps help others?” You see, asking a question like “Why me?” just sets up guilt. When we ask a question of ourselves the mind goes searching for an answer – and eventually gives it to us. I might as well have asked the question “Why do I deserve this to happen to me?” At the time I did ask “Why me?” and can you imagine the answers that my mind came up with? Things like “You’ve been a rotten father – you should never have got divorced”, “You should have been there”; “You did some bad things when you were a kid …like …..”. You can see where this leads. And you’ve done it to yourself! A way to commence this process is by quietly thinking about acceptance and co-operation during meditation. It’s a good idea to make this process of meditation a daily habit … until you feel clear on these issues.

Unconditional Love
The next step is Love. This is the strongest force in the Universe and it is important to love all the people touched by this instance of grief. This includes yourself (after all, loving yourself is purely taking responsibility for yourself). I found that the analogies I use to help me understand unconditional love really helped me to be all-embracing, and are described in full detail in my book “Switch On to Your Inner Strength”. Briefly, we all have an energy within us – whether we call it CHI, Prana, Life Force, Soul, Spirit, Spark of the Divine, or simply Energy. We are all joined to one another through this Energy in the same way that each and every ray of sunshine is ultimately joined back to each other ray of sunshine, through the body of the Sun. So when I extend my unconditional love to anyone, I bring to mind that part of the person who is joined to me (in the way just described) and then I say (to myself) “I unconditionally love you …. and say the name …”

Forgiveness
A final step is Forgiveness and after going through the steps above, you will know when you are ultimately ready for this part of the process. If there is still anger present, then one really needs to work with getting rid of the anger. I first did Forgiveness in meditation by once again bringing to mind that part of the person who is joined to me (once again in the way just described) and then I say (to myself) “I unconditionally forgive you …. and say the person’s name … for ….. whatever it is”. There are a couple of things to remember. Forgiveness is for the Forgiver and NOT for the forgiven, so therefore it is not to be done face to face with the person, unless that person has specifically asked for forgiveness. You can do it in your own mind, in meditation. Another thing to always remember is that Forgiveness does not mean that you condone whatever the offence / crime / or event. The Forgiveness Process should always be a two-fold process – in other words, forgiving the other person and forgiving yourself. Forgive yourself for all the negative emotions and thoughts you have surrounding the particular event or issue.

I believe that Meditation is like Prayer and in fact, when you’re doing Acceptance, Love and Forgiveness, it is actually a Spiritual process. If it sits well with you, it could be a good way for you to bring to mind somebody that you consider symbolises the Divine … or perhaps a personal Guru, Teacher, etc… and “have a chat” to them … or “ask advice” of them.

Addressing Grief and LossLetting Go
Another challenging and often essential component of going through grief and loss is that of “Letting Go”. I have a complete chapter in my book Switch On To Your Inner Strength which addresses this area – I’ll briefly summarise it. Monkeys often get caught (and pay for it with their lives) because they wouldn’t let go of peanuts or bright crystals). The moral of the story is not that monkeys shouldn’t eat peanuts, or play with crystals, or be curious. It’s that there are circumstances where monkeys must let go. So too with our old habits, our old ways of doing things, our old opinions, our old attitudes. All of these things may have served us well in their time. But there comes a time to let go. As we progress through life we need to “Let Go Of” many things such as the past, our children, broken relationships, our status, resentment, envy and jealousy, a pet, a home, a business, a partner or a friend or a close relative who have “left us” through death, and eventually letting go of life itself.

My personal experience of letting go my three daughters after their murder was brought about by some advice that was given to me which stated “that you need to let them go as you may impede their progress”. I didn’t understand this but I know at the time I was meditating daily and bringing my daughters to my mind with very strong and powerful thoughts. The only thing I could think of to do at the time was to meditate and go through a process of letting go. What I did was akin to “Letting Go and Letting God”, which meant that I did not bring them up in my meditation any more. Does this mean I don’t talk about them or have their pictures around? No, of course not. I have their pictures, and whenever they come to mind now they are those lovely 16 and 19 year olds bringing a smile to my face with pleasant thoughts.

More Helpful Hints To Handle Grief
I always stress the importance of talking to friends about grief and trauma. It may not always be possible. Grief and trauma can take away your drive and persistence to find that person, or sometimes the people around you may not be able to or may be unwilling to listen to you. Sometimes the people around you may be part of the problem or they may have their own problems. Sometimes partners may not understand or you may be a person who won’t talk about things or you may feel that you may drive people away if you start sharing your feelings – we all have some insecurity about our relationships.

The key is certainly to express, to verbalise, to live and relive the memories and the might-have-beens. Here are some alternative ways of working through grief and trauma other than talking to a supportive, responsive person.

Remember all the support that is out there in the community, such as Lifeline who are available 24 hours a day (or similar support organisations who are available at the end of a telephone). Another very good organisation which I am pretty sure is world-wide is “Compassionate Friends”. Working through grief within a supportive group may be just the perfect thing to take you through a next hurdle in your journey of grief – people who have “been there before” may have new thoughts or ways of coping that you are unable to think of when in deep grief.

Addressing Grief and LossWhen you’re alone with your grief, one thing that can be really helpful is to write down all your thoughts and feelings as they arise. Writing can be both therapeutic and cathartic. What could you do with your writings? What I would do (and have done) is to call in the Light for the highest good of all concerned and burn what you have written. Some people have mentioned to me that having a diary has been something that has helped them with their grief journey. It also may be worthwhile to write letters or emails about your feelings or journey to friends who can then read and respond in their own time.

Free-form writing can be very mind-clearing. This entails writing about your thoughts as they come into your mind, without any attention to spelling, grammar, form, etc… You write as quickly as you can and then when you may be in the middle of a sentence and another thought comes into your mind, don’t complete the sentence you’re in the middle of, but just continue to write about the new thought. So you see, at the end of all this the writing does not make sense – so I recommend that you don’t re-read it. Once again, call in the Light, burn it and let it go for the highest good of all concerned.

Conclusion
There is no doubt that coping with Grief and Loss is an enormous challenge and know that whatever way you do it is OK – there is no “one way” and it is very individual. It is a good idea however to take a structured approach to it and definitely “Do” something about coping with Grief and Loss. I have, with this E-Report, offered some different strategies which come from personal experience and please know that this short paper does not attempt to be or to provide a definitive answer to everyone’s grief issues.

So, I’m hoping that you or your friends may find that this E-Report of some value in addressing one of life’s challenges which none of us will escape.

Be Easy On Yourself and All The Best

Sandy MacGregor

 
 
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